, Newburyport, MA


October 4, 2012

Forget the rants; let's have some facts


But the occasion for this submission is to remark that these unpleasant attitudes are increasingly invading the columns of this newspaper. Take for example, the bluster of a Sept. 4 “As I See It” column by a Lowell public school teacher. Imagine the complexities that are ignored in the statement that one of “The consequences of re-election” will be that “The country’s deficit will continue to increase at least one trillion dollars per year.” This is an unforgivable assertion because it is so lazy. Where is the evidence, where are the details, what supports this bald assertion? Why won’t it grow by two trillion, 500 billion, 100 million? If we pull out of Afghanistan and raise taxes, will the deficit go down? What if sequestration takes effect at the end of year and the war is ended? Should we trade off between increasing the deficit and reducing unemployment, and are these linked? Would the result be any different if Governor Romney is elected? How do you know? There are no less that 12 such silly statements in that column. In case you think this is an exceptional example from an otherwise exemplary outlet, I call your attention to similar columns that appear on a continuous basis by a former business manager who continues to predict that the political sky is falling without offering much in the way of evidence.

Among the elements of rational dialogue, which are largely missing in these writings, are facts cited in support of the writer’s position, explanations which recognize other arguments and respond to them, and a tone which is reasonable and open to dialogue, not violent and determined to close down the opposition. The editors of this journal would do its readers a service if they reviewed the contributions to their pages more carefully so that all points of view are printed, but unsupported ravings, which are ultimately abusive and insult the readers’ intelligence, are omitted.


John Carroll lives in Newburyport.

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